Car Crashes Involving Government Vehicles

Any time you are in a car, riding or driving along the roadway, you can be involved in a car crash and get injured. And even though the Utah Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office says that Utah’s fatal car accident rate is lower than the national average, it can still happen to you! After a crash with another driver, you typically will want to file a claim with your own car insurance company to tap into your “personal injury protection” or PIP coverage so they can cover your medical bills up to $3,000 (in most circumstances).

For injuries stemming from crashes with most other drivers, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is four years from the date of the crash. But note carefully, if the other driver involved in the crash was a Utah government employee or a person working for a Utah government agency, the statute of limitations will only be one year following the wreck. Read on to learn more about the special circumstances that apply to car crashes involving government-owned and operated vehicles.

What are Government Vehicles?

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) is responsible for maintaining Utah’s roadways. This can involve the use of vehicles like work trucks and snow plows.

During the winter, snow plows are used to clear the roadways. These large vehicles need to move slowly, which can slow down the flow of traffic. Like other large vehicles, snow plows need a greater length to come to a full stop after braking than cars and other passenger vehicles need – especially when there is ice and snow on the road. Crowding and improperly passing snow plows and other work vehicles can cause crashes. One recent example is the accident involving a snow plow and a semi-trailer in January 2017, described in an article published by Fox 13.

Who Insures Government Vehicles?

When a person’s injuries go beyond the “injury threshold” or result in more than $3,000 in damages, he or she may be able to collect damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the at-fault driver in your case was operating a government vehicle, he or she is insured by a policy that covers a group of government-owned vehicles. In order to get compensated after a crash with a government vehicle, you must file what is called a “Notice of Claim” with the State of Utah and the specific government agency, such as the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).

What to Do if you are Involved in an Accident with a Government Vehicle

The Utah state government, like other state and local governments across the nation, has what is known as governmental immunity. In short, this means it can be quite difficult to file a successful injury claim against the government. If you plan to do so, you must file your claim within one year of your crash. Like a claim involving a private driver, you must submit evidence that shows the cause of your injury and the amount of the damages you are trying to get money for.

Work with an Experienced Utah Personal Injury Attorney

If you’re injured in a crash involving a Utah government vehicle, make sure you seek medical attention for your injury right away. This is the best way to help you get back to where you were – or as close as possible – as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Then, as you’re treating, contact one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Kramer Law Group to schedule your FREE initial consultation in our office.

For more information on Utah car accidents, see out car accident page.

Six Tips for Getting Your Car Unstuck from the Snow

Wintry conditions can make Utah roads very treacherous. Salt Lake City receives an average of 47 inches of snowfall each year, according to the U.S. government climate data center. It is important to slow down when driving during winter weather conditions. If your vehicle is equipped with winter tires, then it should have better traction on slick roads. The rubber in winter tires is designed to remain flexible in cold temperatures, which improves the tires’ grip.  Of course, you can have your car well prepared and drive cautiously and still slide off the road.

Getting stuck in the snow is an issue that many Utah drivers have faced at some point. To assist drivers whose car is stuck in the snow, our firm has provided six tips for getting it out.

How to Get Your Car Unstuck in the Snow

  • Remain Calm

If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, you need to remain calm. Panicking will only make things worse. You need to relax and think clearly so that you can assess the situation and determine how to get your vehicle out in a safe manner.

  • Do Not Spin the Tires

When a car is stuck in the snow, the tires may lose traction. If your tires are spinning, take your foot off of the gas pedal. Spinning tires will only dig deeper into the snow. You will not be able to drive your car out until you can get more traction. Try releasing some air from the rear tires to increase the amount of tire in contact with the road surface. Deflating your tires slightly may provide the traction you need to get unstuck. Remember to re-inflate your tires to the specified pressure as soon as possible.

  • Put the Vehicle in Low Gear

A method to increase traction is to put the vehicle in the lowest gear possible. If your vehicle has a winter mode, use that gear setting. Even if your car has an automatic transmission, there will typically be a ‘low gear’ available. Shift your car into low gear, make sure the tires are pointed straight ahead and press gently on the gas pedal to try to move it out of the snow. Resist the urge to slam on the gas pedal. Pressing the gas pedal too quickly or too strongly will only spin your tires again and send you back deeper into the snow.

  • Slowly Rock Your Car Back and Forth

Another method that can be used to gain traction is slowly rocking your car back and forth. This is done by putting the car into drive, pushing the gas pedal lightly and then shifting the car into reverse and doing the same thing. A slow rocking motion can often allow your car to gain just enough momentum and traction to get itself out of the snow.

  • Find an Outside Source of Traction

When rocking does not work, you may have to find another way to increase the traction. Sometimes this can be done by digging and removing the snow from around the tires. You may need to supply traction from an outside source. Some examples of products that can be used to increase traction are sand, gravel, kitty litter and wood chips. It is good idea to carry a bag of cat litter or sand in the trunk of your car during the winter to spread under your tires if you get stuck.

  • Get Help

Keep in mind that it is not always possible to get your car out of the snow on your own. If you are stuck, you may need to call for help. You do not want to risk an injury of any kind.  If you cannot get your car out, please call a friend or a roadside assistance company. Wait in the vehicle until help arrives. Check to make sure your car’s exhaust pipe is free of snow to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the passenger compartment. Towing your car out might be the only way to get it unstuck.

Were You Injured in a Winter Weather Accident?

Even when you drive cautiously, you cannot prevent other drivers from driving carelessly and causing crashes on snow covered roads. The experienced Utah personal injury lawyers at the Kramer Law Group are ready to help if you have been injured in a crash caused by another driver. To request a free review of your case, please contact our West Jordan office today. Our team serves victims throughout the state, including Park City, Provo, Sandy and Ogden.

 

What to Do within 30 Days of Being in a Commercial Truck Crash

Being involved in an crash with a commercial truck is terrifying, and may leave you with a totaled car and lots of medical bills. You may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries, but a failure to act in a timely manner may hurt your chances of recovering the full amount you deserve. Here are a some things that you should do within 30 days after a truck accident:

  1. Get the truck driver’s name and insurance information. The first thing that you should do is to get the truck driver’s name, the name of the trucking company, and the insurance information of the company. While Utah is a no-fault state, you can bring a lawsuit against the truck driver/trucking company if you meet a minimum dollar threshold. (see: the website of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association for more information).
  1. Use your phone’s camera to take photos of the crash. If you are able, you should take pictures of the accident scene, including the license plate number of the truck. Be sure to photograph the vehicles’ positions, any skid marks in the road and all damage and debris.
  1. Obtain a copy of the accident report. You should report the accident to the police and wait for a law enforcement officer to arrive. At the scene, the investigating officer will create an accident report. Ask the officer when the report will be available and how you can get a copy.
  1. Seek medical attention. Be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible for your injuries. In some cases, your injuries may require emergency medical care. In most cases, it is best to travel directly from the scene of the accident to the hospital for a checkup. Even if you do not feel injured, you should visit a doctor for an assessment and inform the physician that you have been in a collision. Some injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident.
  1. Report the accident to your insurance company. You must report the accident to your insurance company in a timely manner. Provide your insurance company with the identification information about the truck driver and the truck driver’s insurer.
  1. Decline to give the trucking company’s insurance company a statement. You will likely be contacted by the insurance company of the trucking company seeking a recorded statement. You do not have to provide a statement to the other driver’s insurer. Doing so may undermine your chances of obtaining a settlement. Politely decline and refer them to your attorney.
  1. Do not accept an initial settlement offer. An insurance adjuster may offer you a quick settlement offer if you will sign a waiver releasing the trucking company from further liability. While you may be tempted to take the money and be done with the case, initial settlement offers are often far less than the fair compensation that accident victims deserve. You should never accept a first settlement offer without having a knowledge attorney review it and discussing whether it is reasonable.
  1. Contact an experienced Utah truck accident lawyer. Truck crashes in Utah are often more complex than traditional car crashes, and the damages are usually much more serious. If you have been involved in a truck accident and need money to pay for your losses, our experienced Utah truck accident team at the firm of the Kramer Law Group knows how to navigate the claims process and seek the money you deserve.

To schedule a free case consultation with our knowledgeable truck crash attorneys today, contact us by filling out our online form.